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Review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is my review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You see all of the reviews here.

Weirdly, I had never been in this lounge until last week.  Given that I have been flying BA for, well, ever, this is a bit odd.

There are three reasons.  The first is that I rarely fly out of Terminal 3.  The second is that you need to be flying British Airways First Class or have a Gold card to access Galleries First.  The third is that you would have to be out of your mind to use this lounge when the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is just a few feet away.

To be honest, even the new Qantas lounge is probably preferable to Galleries First.  Where you really want to be, however, is in the private First Class dining room of the Cathay lounge, enjoying an excellent waiter service meal before having a couple of glasses of wine in the main area.  We reviewed the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge here.

My review of the main British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 3, for Club World and Silver / oneworld Sapphire cardholders, is here.

Inside British Airways Galleries First at Heathrow Terminal 3

However, for the benefit of our readers, I decided to visit Galleries First instead.

To be fair, it isn’t a terrible lounge.  It would be a perfectly adequate business class lounge if it wasn’t for the fact that it is very dark.  It is not, in any way, exclusive in the way that the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is.

It is a long and relatively narrow lounge.  It looks lighter in these pictures than it actually was.

Turn left as you enter and you end up in this bar area.  The fixtures and fittings will be familiar from other BA lounges, which is not a criticism as they look good:

The spirits display was well done.  Apart from Johnnie Walker Blue Label, there was nothing that I would classify as super premium:

As usual, British Airways provides a large selection of reading material although it appears that many were chosen based on their ability to write a cheque than via editorial quality:

The main seating area was very quiet around noon:

Behind this is an underused business area.  I think there is a case for drastically reducing the size of these in British Airways lounges as they are under-used now that most travellers have ultra-light laptops (I say this as someone who did use these areas heavily five years ago):

What DID impress me was the kids area.  There was also a PS4 and another games machine out of shot.  The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is not really aimed at little ones and if you are travelling with children I think Galleries First may suit you better:

At the other end of the lounge you come to another seating area and another bar.  There is a large wine selection here which is displayed beautifully.  Note how dark it looks even though this was early afternoon on a clear day.

There is a private dining area which gets more sun.  I’m not sure when this is in use, presumably it opens in the early evenings for pre-flight dining:

Here is the lunchtime buffet.  It was not over-inspiring and I decided to stick to Victoria Sponge (BA lounges do excellent Victoria Sponge cake) and champagne.

Hot options included pork meatballs, pasta, Italian beef meatballs, steamed sugar snap peas, fish and chip bites, pea and mozzarella arancini balls, rice and herb roaster parmentier potatoes.  It would have made a decent spread in a business class lounge but this was Galleries First.

Earlier in the morning when I first arrived they only had the usual finger sandwiches and salad:

Conclusion

Unless you have small children – in which case the presence of a decent kids play room may swing it – I don’t see any reason why First Class or Gold Executive Club members should visit the British Airways Galleries First lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.

It isn’t terrible, by any means.  It’s just that Cathay Pacific offers a more refined experience.

I didn’t head across to Cathay though.  Instead, I decided to visit another Terminal 3 lounge I had never visited before – the American Airlines First Class lounge.  That review will follow.

Here are my other Heathrow Terminal 3 lounge reviews:


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Comments (83)

  • Darren says:

    I rarely fly T3 but when I do it’s the Cathay lounge for me.

    Is there a link to the article with all of the BA flights from T3?

  • David says:

    I find all BA First lounges to be pretty boring, like they got a job lot on dark colours and dirt. Many of the seats are stained and even when new they look tired and boring. Maybe that is what BA also thinks it’s customers are. Perhaps they should sack their designers and let a few children loose with Lego and see what they come up with. BA are now never the leaders in anything – other than cost cutting. The only lounge I really appreciate is the T5 arrivals lounge but on a recent return from China found it shuts in the afternoon. Another cost cut presumably.

    • Rob says:

      Arrivals has always closed at 2pm (?) as long as I can remember. Remember only flights from the US really matter to BA and they are mainly in by then.

    • sunguy says:

      If BA cant clean their planes properly – what makes you think they can clean the lounges. I was in BA First from PHX the other week(okay – an older 747) and found all manner of crud down the side of the seat (I wasnt even looking – I dropped something from my wallet and stuck my hand in something icky!).

  • GeoffGeoff says:

    Could anyone confirm what champagne is available in the BA and Cathay F lounges? It’s the deciding factor for my OH! Thanks.

    • Stu N says:

      Cathay F had Berry Bros Extra Brut on Friday which was rather good. There was another choice too but can’t remember.

      No reason not to try both lounges, they are all right next to each other…

      • Tom says:

        Cathay 1st Berry Brothers Extra plus Moët Brut help yourself or waiter dining. AA Flagship – Moet Brut at entrance – lovely staff will pour or help yourself. Cathay business – Moët Brut at bar. BA First Henriot Brut – help yourself. Roses all round but I don’t drink pink.

      • Lady London says:

        I had a Berry Bros red in the CX lounge which was highly drinkable too.
        This from someone who’s practically a teetotaller…

    • Rob says:

      BA had the usual Henriot rose and the Duval-Wotsit standard. AA First Lounge has Moet but not self pour.

    • Lady London says:

      I can;t remember I just drank it!

      The BA Lounge in T3 had a nice range of whiskies when I was in there. I think for spirits they are better than CX. Trouble is, I was there at a ridiculously early hour and am practically a teetotaller! though I do try things…

      • Lady London says:

        PS sometimes in BA lounges it’s worth asking the staff what champagnes are avaliable, they are not always put out on display.

    • GeoffGeoff says:

      Thanks all. Appreciated.

  • Metty says:

    I avoided the BA First lounge until last month, Bank Holiday Monday, flying with the wife, we had spa treatments booked so thought we’d give it a go.

    At the entry desk we were reminded that we could bring in extra guests (text had been sent a few days prior) and the lounge was very sparsely populated, around 20 people max. As it was breakfast time, we opted for the buffet, I remember making a joke about the ‘sausage mountain’.

    By the time we were descending into Nairobi 10 or so hours later, I was suffering from tummy trouble and wife started throwing up. I can’t prove it, but we both think the lounge food was to blame.

    I’m not sure who operates the catering in T3 BA lounges, but it was nothing like T5 where the smaller trays of food in the buffet are replenished regularly to cope with the demand. In T3, it seemed that they’d piled up a whole morning worth of sausages in one go.

    Suffice to say that last week, I went back to the CX lounge and ordered off the menu. I know that there is an order off the menu option in BA lounge too after holding an overflowing sick bag in the queue for immigration, we won’t be going back to BA.

    • Jill says:

      Matty – you might need to read up about cause, consequence and correlation…

      • Cat says:

        Yup, “post hoc ergo propter hoc” was pretty much Wakefield’s entire MMR vaccine argument. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
        Exposure to a nasty virus in an airport is just as likely as food poisoning (which is one possibility), but it sounds pretty horrible either way, and not what you want on a long haul plane.

  • AY-up says:

    The lounges in T3 all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think one has to be “out of one’s mind” to use the BA one.

    In the Cathay lounge the food is spread across three places: the J noodle bar, the F restaurant, and the little buffet with limited range in the middle of the F lounge. If you want to graze, eat a mixture of things, or just poke at stuff rather than ordering off of the Cathay menu, then BA or Qantas are better.

    If you want personal space, again, BA and Qantas are better; the Cathay F lounge always seems crowded when I am there whereas the other two are empty.

    The one and only reason I’d go straight to the Cathay lounge is that they have good showers. Qantas has terrible showers: no hair dryers and terrible air conditioning; during a recent heatwave it was an awful experience and I ended up going to Cathay just to use a hair dryer then went back to Qantas. BA’s are ok but not great, but not as impractical as the Qantas ones.

    So, the BA lounge is a perfectly good compromise for me: decent range of food, nothing too fancy but at least it’s all in one place; good drink selection; peace and quiet; and acceptable bathroom and shower facilities even if they’re not fabulous.

    • Genghis says:

      CX showers = Aesop products 🙂

    • John says:

      The Cathay hair dryers are kind of weak, but better than nothing.

      CX F is crowded 2-3 hours before each CX flight, so the best time to be there if not flying CX is 1030-1430

  • Kinkell says:

    Totally agree…Cathay is by far the best lounge in T3. Flew F to Denver 3 weeks ago. Went to Gslleties…dark, not much if a view , didn’t fancy the menu. Surly chap on reception. Decanted to Qantas, lovely welcome, looked around, nice decor, but couldn’t find seats where we could charge gadgets and it seemed a bit lacking in atmosphere. Off to Cathay….quiet, nice view of planes. HKG flight had just left. Lovely meal in dining room . It just was comfortable , clean, welcoming.
    Now back in Galleries T5 flew in 747 upper deck from Denver today. Toilet out of action, filthy storage lockers and my footstool had an enormous revolting stain on it. No way we’re my feet going on that. Took pics…..now wondering who I should send to. Cabin crew apologetic.
    Galleries is crowded , debris everywhere, coffee station needs a good clean and clear up.
    Moan over…I’ll blame it on tiredness, and the bloke in front of me with the loudest, most irritating and unpredictable cough, that prevented any sort of nap .

    • Shoestring says:

      File a complaint. BA have recently been giving extremely generous compo for people in your situation. A few people getting 100K

  • Riku says:

    The private dining area in the picture is open to everyone until a certain time in the evening (might be 6pm) and after that only first class ticket holders. But the food is the same as for those sitting elsewhere in the lounge. If you don’t find a menu then ask the staff for one (they have them in a pile near the entry to the private dining area). They will serve food from the menu anywhere in the lounge or you can take from the buffet.
    Certainly last night at 5pm we (Y ticket on AY) sat in the private dining area and ordered from the menu. The food (menu or buffet) is rubbish compared to the CX lounge though. I put the BA first lounge food on par with Asda cafe

  • James says:

    MY own view is that the BA First lounge in T3 is a disgrace – desperately in need of a major revamp. Head straight to Cathay. Even the new-ish Qantas lounge is better.

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